Heartbreaking Details Emerge from Javan Rhino Poaching Trial

April 26, 2024

Our worst nightmare for one of the world’s rarest species appears to be a reality. A suspect, apprehended in November 2023, has reportedly testified in court this week to killing seven Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park from 2019 to 2023. With such a fragile population, one poaching loss is heartbreaking; seven is incomprehensible.

Read more: A single gang of poachers may have killed 10% of Javan rhinos since 2019

We don’t yet have a full picture of exactly what has happened or how – there are still suspects at large and the investigation is ongoing. Earlier today, local authorities arrested two more individuals suspected of buying and selling Javan rhino horn. We implore the remaining criminals to do the right thing and turn themselves in, and for anyone with information regarding this case to assist authorities. This is not just a crime against Indonesia, but against the world. Javan rhinos are ecologically imperative to their local ecosystem, and intrinsically invaluable to all of us. 

IRF is watching this case closely and working with Ujung Kulon National Park authorities and all Javan rhino stakeholders to get to the bottom of this devastating crime. We will also do everything in our power to prevent another tragedy like this of one of the world’s most threatened species. Last year, in response to a suspected poaching incident, the National Park deployed additional layers of security to halt illegal incursions into the Park; this security has been successful to date but no one is letting their guard down. IRF will continue supporting the Park and local implementing agencies in their efforts to improve security and investigate wildlife crime networks.

The International Rhino Foundation is urging prosecutors to seek the highest possible sentencing for any suspect found guilty of rhino poaching or related crimes. Other would-be poachers need to know that wildlife crimes will not be tolerated in Indonesia. 

All of us at IRF are mourning. We are angry. And we are more determined than ever. This is a huge blow to rhinos and the hard working people in rhino range states who put their all into conserving them. But we are not giving up. We owe it to this species – and to the animals lost – to keep fighting for them. We share our heartbreak with all of you.

Original photo by Tobias Nowlan, courtesy of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry